Defenses to sexual battery come in two main categories… those that broadly apply to all criminal cases and those that specifically apply to your case. Whether your cases presents any defenses to sexual battery will all depend on the particular facts present in your case and the corresponding applicable law.
When a criminal lawyer is tasked with defending a person accused of sexual battery, one of the first defenses that comes to mind concerns the victim’s credibility. When the prosecution’s witnesses have credibility problems, it can effect the entire outcome of the case. Whether a person has really good credibility or whether their credibility is very poor. In other words, credibility is a two-edged sword.
A criminal lawyer working on a sexual battery case must carefully examine each and every aspect of the alleged victim’s statements, including any audio, video, or written statements made to police detectives, sexual assault treatment center personnel, 911 operators, or other persons.
Alleged Victim Credibility
At first, a criminal lawyer must determine if the victim’s story is believable. A criminal attorney must determine of the alleged victim’s story is consistent. If inconsistencies are found, it must then be determined if those inconsistencies are material or inconsequential.
For example, if an alleged victim first describes his/her attacker as a Caucasian male with facial hair, but then in a later statements describes the attacker as olive skinned with no facial hair, a serious question may exist about the identity of the offender. Such a discrepancy would be material.
Whether any one particular inconsistency is material or inconsequential will depend on the particular facts of any one case. For that reason, a criminal defense lawyer must consider all facts, consistent, inconsistent, or otherwise, in their rightful context. Knowing where and how each fact fits in a specific case is crucial to making these determinations.
When a criminal attorney takes a victim’s credibility into consideration, the following questions are sometimes raised to determine if they will provide defenses to sexual battery charges:
- Does the victim know the defendant? If so how?
- Is the victim related to the defendant in a familial context?
- Does the victim have a reason to harm the defendant?
- Does the victim have a reason to lie or exaggerate about the defendant?
- Is the victim motivated by divorce proceedings?
- Is the victim motivated by child custody proceedings?
- Does the victim have a financial motivation?
- Is the victim trying to obtain a TPS from immigration?
- Does the victim have any reason to ruin the reputation of the defendant?
- Is the victim a scorned lover or romantic interest?
- Does the victim have a financial motivation for lying or exaggerating?
- Has the victim made similar allegations about other people in the past?
- Does the victim have a reputation for dishonesty or embellishment?
- Is the victim’s story generally believable or is it incredulous?
- Does the victim’s account of what happened contain any inconsistencies?
- Was the victim’s ability to remember events impaired?
- Was the victim’s ability to identify his/her attacker impaired?
- Does the victim have a criminal history for any felonies or crimes of moral turpitude?
- Does any evidence collected in the case contradict the victim’s version of events?
- Do other witnesses contradict any part of the victim’s story?
- Is there any forensic evidence that proves the victim is not telling the truth?
- Does any forensic evidence prove the victim is exaggerating his/her claim?
- Is the defendant a celebrity or other figure who is an easy target for a profiteering victim?
- Did the victim report the alleged offense timely? If not, is there a valid excuse?
- If there was a delay in reporting the offense, how long transpired before it was reported?
- Have any part of the victim’s claims been disproven?
- Do any other witnesses question the victim’s credibility or the accuracy of his/her story?
This list of questions is certainly not comprehensive, but should give the reader an idea of some of the thoughts a criminal lawyer has when evaluating an alleged victim’s credibility in a sexual battery case. Not all of these questions may be applicable to your case and some not mentioned may be entirely appropriate, given your specific circumstances.
That is a why a criminal lawyer defending someone accused of a sexual battery must conduct a very comprehensive investigation into the case facts. Determining what questions needs to be asked about the victim’s credibility is even more fundamental than obtaining answers.
Ultimately, a criminal defense lawyer must be satisfied that every reasonable question about the victim’s credibility is answered. Case investigation would not be complete without such determinations.